Roush Fenway Racing’s Zack Novak won the 2019 eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series opener Tuesday night, narrowly holding off a charging Jimmy Mullis on a one-lap shootout at Daytona International Speedway.
Mullis, who drives for Richmond Raceway Esports, ended up just .023 seconds behind after a late move off Turn 4 coming to the finish. The two leaders hooked up on the restart and began to pull a slight gap over the field. With the pair in the clear, Mullis looked to the outside off Turn 4 and began to surge up to Novak’s rear quarter panel. Unfortunately for Mullis, he simply ran out of racetrack.
“We were set up really good there for the one-lap shootout with me P1 and Jimmy (Mullis) P3,”said Novak, the reigning eNASCAR Ignite Series Champion. “We just had to hold it until (Turn) 4 to get one of us the win.”
G2 Esports Keegan Leahy settled for third, a mere .100 seconds back. JTG Daugherty Racing’s drivers rounded out the top five after Nick Ottinger survived some late-race damage to come home fourth and Christian Challiner fifth.
Defending series champion Ray Alfalla looked strong as usual, but made a rare mistake leading to damage that took him out of contention. On Lap 54, shortly after his first green flag pit stop, Alfalla suddenly broke loose entering Turn 1. Despite his best efforts to save his car, he tagged the outside wall, damaging the right side of his Wood Brothers Racing number 21 Ford. He salvaged a 19th-place finish.
Two other preseason favorites, Ryan Luza and Michael Conti, also had eventful races, but each came away with a Top 10 result. Luza of Flipsid3 Tactics nearly had the lead on Lap 94 with a push from Teien down the backstretch but could not quite clear Novak. He was then hung out on the last restart but held on for sixth. Conti worked his way forward from 14th on the grid to contend late but was caught up in the big crash and salvaged a seventh-place result for JR Motorsports.
While Novak controls the drivers championship after Daytona, it’s JTG Daugherty on top of the team standings with 73 points. JR Motorsports is close behind with 67 points followed by Richmond Raceway Esports on 66 points.
The series shifts to the 1.5-mile confines of Las Vegas Motor Speedway for Round 2. Novak will look to keep his early season momentum going while last year’s big three of Alfalla, Luza, and Conti look to break into victory lane. Coverage begins Tuesday, February 26 at 9pm ET on eNASCAR.com.